I have a confession to make: I fear beets. It is one of the few food phobias I have.* Whenever I think of beets, I think of the color and smell of canned beets. That horrifying, blood red color, and that tinny, sweet, off smell. Eyuck.
*That, and tripe. I tried to be tough and ordered a bowl of menudo at a local mexican diner. Boy, was that a mistake.
My problem is that Diane (aka Mrs. DadWhoCooksDinner) loves beets. Just loves them. When we'd go to the farmer's market, the beets would sit there, in their bunches, looking colorful and innocent. Diane would insist on getting some, and then it would be up to me to cook them.
*This is one of the few downsides to being a Dad who Cooks Dinner. Sometimes you just have to buck up. Luckily, nobody I love wants me to cook tripe.
**OK, I confess. First I tried to distract her with brussel sprouts, her food phobia. She would not be denied.
After a few rounds of this, I learned to roast beets. If you roast them, the result is a nutty-sweet vegetable that I...I...I kind of like. There, I said it.
- 6 medium beets (between the size of a baseball and a golf ball)
- Sprig of thyme (optional - you can substitute any fresh herbs you have on hand)
- Olive oil
- Salt and Pepper
1. Prepare the Beets: Scrub the beets, then trim the root and stem ends. Leave the skin on - we'll peel it off later. In groups of 3, put them on a sheet of aluminum foil, then drizzle with a little olive oil, and sprinkle with some salt and pepper. Add the thyme sprig, then fold the foil over and crimp the edges to tightly cover the beets.
2. Prepare the grill: Set your grill up for indirect cooking at medium to high heat. For my Weber Summit, this means turning the two outer burners (burners 1 and 6) to high, and leaving the middle burners unlit.
3. Cook the Beets: Put the foil wrapped beets over the unlit burners (indirect heat) and cook with the lid closed for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the thickness of your beets. They're done when they can be pierced easily with a skewer.
*I use the pointy end of my probe thermometer for this, and I poke right through the foil into one of the beets. I don't check the temperature, though. I'm checking that there's no resistance when I poke the beet.
4. Clean and Serve the Beets: Remove the foil pouch from the grill, and let it rest for 5-10 minutes to cool down. Open up the foil, and peel the skin off of the beets using paper towels. Cut the beets into halves or quarters, depending on their size. Put the beets in a serving bowl, sprinkle them with a little more salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil.
*Blue Cheese: Beets and blue cheese are a classic combination - crumble some blue cheese over the top of the beets just before serving.
*Goat Cheese: See blue cheese, above. Another classic combination.
*Beet juice stains everything it comes into contact with. For easier cleanup, I use a cutting board that can go in the dishwasher when I trim the stem and root ends. This is why I don't peel them until after they're cooked; not only is it easier to peel them (the skin just slips off), but you don't make as much of a mess.
Even so, I try to peel them over the sink, and put them directly into their serving bowl.
*This is another recipe that is almost impossible to overcook. If you do manage to burn the outside, just peel the burnt part off with the skin.
*If you're beet phobic like I am, try the orange or yellow beets. I'm not sure why, but they don't bother me as much. I think that deep purplish-red color reminds me too much of beets from the can, and starts to set me off.
Questions? Comments? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
The picture of striped choggia beets in Five Ways to Eat Beets [thekitchn.com]
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